I wouldn’t say that this year (2021) was off to a good start with Covid and all, but and there is always a but, i have managed to do some pretty amazing things so far. So i had a look at the organisations who have been helping me business wise over the last 12 months and i have become a member of the Visual Artists Association and entered work into their International Art Exhibition which was accepted. It runs from 12th April until 30th June 2021 and i am so thrilled. I have also become a member of Independent Wirral, a chamber of commerce initiative to help small businesses on the Wirral and been awarded the ‘Good to go’ industry standard from Visit England which means i am now Covid friendly when i attend events. All i need are the events and we are good!
I’ve also managed to successfully go out photographing the shore line and i have made several new Polaroid images which i am very pleased about and maybe the best bit is, im going to be a granny again and its a boy! So with all that excitement i have also been able to book several new events over the next few months starting in April where i am going to be selling my art locally in Chemist and Co Hoylake, Wirral on Saturday the 17th. I also have several dates in May and June so far, i hope as we come out of lockdown there will be many more events to participate in, fingers crossed.
Everyone is being told that during this lock down 3.0, we need to really look after our mental health, in fact for the past 12 months we have heard a lot about making sure we cater to our mental health needs. Exercise, fresh air, doing things you love to do but what happens when its travel that is your love? Nobody can go anywhere! Literally, we are stuck at home, so what can we do about it?
For me and i admit to suffering from depression, i read, i walk the dogs for my hours exercise every day, i try to be creative but there is a block there, spend time with my family, watch television, the usual stuff. I’ve been working on some portraits that i took last year, i cant publish them on social media yet as they were for a film that hasn’t been released yet and i have been contemplating.
With limited resources i have to be careful what i use my Polaroid film for, so i have been waiting for the right photograph to come around so i can transfer it to Polaroid film via my Polaroid Lab. Over Christmas i caught two images of light traces and decided to create an image with my Polaroid Lab. As soon as it was developed i opened the film and on the very back you could still faintly see the image left from the developing paste so i decided to frame both sides of the print in a deep black frame and im really pleased with the results! As soon as lock down is over im going to get them into Chemist and Co. this is the shop that stocks my Polaroid photography and hopefully they will get lots of attention.
Struggling with ways to boost my creativity i look through social media every day, read about what is going on in the world, watch documentaries, look at what my fellow artist friends are doing but for me the one big boost will be to travel again, nothing epic, just around England, even the mere thought of being able to travel whenever i want could be enough, i think it is the thought of freedom that excites. What do you do, how do you manage your mental health, do you have a creative block? Leave me a comment letting me know how your doing, we could start a dialogue and help each other, i think at this time kindness to each other is an essential dont you?
Well, i ran out of Gold Foil and on my shopping trip i bought, 100 sheets of Gold Foil, photographic spray mount, a pack of A3 foam board and half a dozen frames. Nice shopping list but what is it to do with you? Nothing, just making conversation. The project i have been not really giving my attention to keeps calling to me and every so often i will go and attempt to draw something from my stagnant creative heart. An exposure here an exposure there, maybe a deconstruction of some Polaroid film but im not really feeling it.
Anyway, i have a Polaroid Lab (on SALE now) and I’ve been taking photos on my phone whenever I’ve walked the dog, so throughout the Autumn (Fall) i have collected some really nice photos. This day i exposed a film on my Lab of a beautifully coloured leaf, the Lab is so easy to use, you have an app on your phone which allows you to do single images or up to nine images creating a beautiful collage, you open the app, select how many film you want to make up your collage, pop your phone image down on the Lab and press the big red button.
Once i had my film exposed i had to wait around 10 minutes for it to develop full then i took it into the kitchen and deconstructed it. You slice the edges off with a sharp blade, cut the black strips that hold the film together and peel the backing off carefully. The developer is toxic so dont put your hands near your face and dont let it come into contact with anything edible.
You then pop the image into a dish of hot water and watch as the emulsion floats off the plastic front, this jelly like thing is the image you will then transfer into cold water and place onto a piece of watercolour paper. However, i didn’t do that this time, i left the image on the plastic front and played around putting Gold Leaf on to the back. (This is the bit where i ran out of Gold Leaf). So now i have this piece of film covered in gold and for the life of me i just dont know what to do with it next. Inspiration has left the building.
I feel such envy for those artists/photographers who are creating at the moment, the only thing i am doing is arguing over the rights to the photographs i took for someone as a favor. If you think you can help drop me a message in the comments. I feel conflicted, torn in different directions, do i have a go at hand making a photo book of my Polaroids, do i have a go at filming, just with my phone, do i spend the night over in Liverpool doing night photography, or forget my camera and just wallow in social media, go and learn something new on the internet? Its just push me pull me.
I’m sure im not the only person in a funk, 2020 has been the worst year ever which is an understatement. My mum passed away at the end of 2019 and we are coming up to the anniversary of her passing so that doesn’t help but i am grateful that i have not got troubles as bad as some. Lockdown eases on the 2nd December and the shops will open again, hopefully that will help with sales of my work, there are actual physical markets happening again, yippee, i miss talking to people about my work, oh yeah, Christmas is just around the corner. Turkey, mince pies, family, gifts, love and time together, maybe its time to forget about work and time to concentrate on family and myself, have a drink or three and just have a bit of fun!
Today was one of those rare days when i had the house pretty much to myself, husband off on a film shoot, kids on half term but hiding in their bedrooms playing computer games, so i decided that i was going to take this as a sign that it was ok to make art. I had been looking at some of my Polaroid images and decided that i could sacrifice two in the name of art. I wanted to experiment!
I can safely say that the first experiment was a complete and utter disaster! I put one of the Polaroids into the microwave and turned it on, within seconds it had burst into flames and i couldn’t turn it off in time to save it. I ended up with a small plastic lump, no way was that going to become a photographic image. In the bin it went.
Experiment two was better, i didn’t put it in the microwave this time, i held it over a flame on my cooker top, just enough to heat the back up, then i cut down the sides and peeled the back off leaving the developing chemical residue on the back of the film. This meant i could then do a ‘Lift’ of the emulsion and put it onto paper.
I decided to use gold foil on the paper so applied that first, then i placed the film into a bowl of boiling water and waited for the emulsion to bubble and lift from the film. I then used the clean film to place the emulsion into cold water and slipped the paper with the gold foil under the emulsion and removed it from the water. After a little maneuvering i had the image on the foil in the place i wanted it, i then dried it off with kitchen towel and after it has dried and been flattened i will mount and frame it in a simple black gallery style frame.
Maybe tomorrow i will get enough time to use my Polaroid Lab and print off some of the images i have on my phone!
There are a lot of ‘Challenges’ going around on social media at the moment, #30daysofart #atistsupportpledge drawing challenges etc. Some designed to help with online sales others to explore your talent. These are all great BUT does it take away the time you need for creating your work? I’m finding it incredibly difficult making art, as a photographer you would think it easy, just go outside with your camera and take photos right, WRONG! I’ve tried the drawing to get inspiration, got bored, tried setting up my lightbox and getting wildflowers to photograph, bored! Thought about photographing the sunsets as they seem to be wonderful at the moment, no inspiration. I think im broken.
I’m not sure if it is depression, after all i am in morning for my mum, we are living in strange times closed off from everyone, i can’t make money selling my work the normal way and online is certainly not working for me at the moment. Online social media course being taken. I need gallery space, i love gallery space, i’d love to sell during the Chester Art Fair but as I’ve made no money recently the £700.00 fee is just too much, so just what am i going to do?
Any suggestions? They are all welcome but PLEASE, be nice! There is one thing that is calling to me. I was bought a Polaroid Lab for my birthday in May, I’ve used it once and IT IS SO GOOD! The down side is the film, its so damn expensive, you only get 8, yes 8, images out of a box and its around £15.00 for a box, three boxes for £55.00 with shipping, so i really don’t want to use it but i do but i dont, HELP! I could experiment till the cows come home but i only have one and a half packs left and i could use that in a day, then no more, then i would have to find a way to sell them to buy more film, see the vicious circle i’m in? Oh how i wish i was a painter or felt artist, anything that is easier than being a photographer!
But a photographer i am and that is not going to change, so i need to get my act together, make a plan, keep to it. Go for it with the #artistsupportpledgeand get my work out on Instagram (@spikeymousephotography) It works i’ve seen the SOLD by peoples art, i want it to work for me too. SO this is what im going to do, sit at my computer and make multiple posts to use over the week of the art i want to sell, post it, do the social media thing and comment on my favorite artists and friends posts, try to get myself seen by more people. Im going to create! Im going to use that Polaroid Lab and all of the film and enjoy myself while it lasts, then im going to look for galleries that are open and talk to them about showing or just stocking my art. Oh and shops, those too and i am going to DO IT and enjoy myself too. Isn’t that why we make art?
So that’s my plan. If you have been patient enough to read down to the bottom here this is where i have the big ask. PLEASE go onto my instagram account @spikeymousephotography and have a look at the work i have posted, the work for sale through #artistsupportpledge and think about buying a little something, my work starts at £25.00, all of the Polaroids are original one of a kind and will never be reprinted so your getting a great deal on them! And they really are beautiful, eye catching and very collectible. You will be kindly helping an artist who in turn will help another artist and the support goes on.
I am often asked how I came up with ‘spikey mouse photography‘ for my business, I have to admit that it is all thanks to a boy called Ben who wanted to buy his mum a birthday present. Ben is my eldest son and one day when he was out with his grandmother he decided that he was going to buy me a present for my birthday, I think he was around 3 or 4 years old at the time. They finally came up with a ceramic ‘Hedgie’ hedgehog and Ben has been buying me 2 or 3 of them a year ever since. It is an understatement to say that I now have quite a collection and when I was naming my new business adventure everyone suggested using ‘Hedgehog’ but I wanted something a little different and found that in Bengali Hedgehog was spikey mouse and a business was born! Strange how things happen, I have a great and memorable company name and am reminded every business day of my little boy Ben and my lovely Mum who has sadly passed away now. Ben is now a grown man and a father himself and is really happy I chose to use him as my muse, thank you Ben. x